WILLISTON, N.D. - Attending Williston State College (WSC) had always been in Jacob Schaubel's plans, but his timeline wasn't definite until a casual comment at a Christmas party last year motivated Schaubel to apply to WSC for the Fall 2015 semester.
Schaubel's aunt had mentioned the Williams County Graduate (WCG) Scholarship to him last Christmas; however, Schaubel did not pursue the idea until his cousin later reaffirmed that the scholarship was real.
"When I found out I was eligible, I applied as quickly as I could," Schaubel stated. "I wanted to make sure I didn't miss out on this great opportunity."
In its first completed semester, the WCG Scholarship helped 344 students save an average of $2,817.69 in tuition and fees and an average of $638 in books. The total dollar amount created out of the partnership between the Alva J. Field Trust, the North Dakota Challenge Fund, and the Williston State College Foundation was $1,229,119 as of census day, September 22, 2015.
"In a day and age where the average student can expect to leave college after four years with approximately $35,000 in debt, our Foundation is ecstatic that our partnership can help alleviate some of that debt for our community," Terry Olson, Executive Director of the WSC Foundation explained. "Excited about our fall numbers, our board is looking at a way to expand this program to include neighboring counties."
A 2013 Trenton high school graduate, Schaubel chose to live in the dorms for his first year, developing his passion for writing while he fulfills his general requirements.
"The dorm is pretty comfortable, a great place to start getting used to living on my own," Schaubel said. "Attending WSC, I find that I have more resources for my writing, and I have met a lot of new people. I found myself getting out there more with on-campus activities. My first semester at WSC was a real social boost for me."
Each month, WSC's Student Life department hosts events from comedians and mentalist to bowling outings and dances.
"I have noticed an increase in attendance at my events, and I think that I have the Williams County Scholarship to thank for some of that," Tara Peterson, WSC's Student Life Coordinator noted. "Presenting constant opportunities for students to meet new people and just have a blast together are my main goals when event planning. Students are truly the ones who make the events great!"
The influx of students since the scholarship began is apparent. Peterson noticed more off-campus students attending WSC's Student Life events. "I try to appeal to the masses when scheduling events. It makes for an incredibly successful event when both on and off campus students are in attendance," explained Peterson.
The start of the WCG scholarship coincided with WSC's second record-breaking headcount semester. WCG Scholarship students compose 33% of WSC's total record-breaking enrollment of 1,038 students for Fall 2015.
"I will have significantly less financial debt because of this scholarship," Schaubel stated. "I am leaning towards a degree in English to continue my love of writing, but I know with my generals covered by the WCG Scholarship my debt should lower exceptionally."
After transferring to NDSU upon graduation, Schaubel plans on pursuing a career in writing with an emphasis in science fiction and fantasy. "If I need funds to continue my writing, I may take an English teaching position," added Schaubel.
The WCG Scholarship will continue as long as revenue and earnings continue. Now, thanks to the North Dakota Challenge Fund, personal contributions will go even further. Dr. Raymond Nadolny, President of WSC asks anyone thinking of a charitable gift this season to consider this unique opportunity: "For every two dollars donated, the North Dakota Challenge Fund will contribute one dollar." Anyone interested in contributing to the WCG Scholarship can contact the Williston State College Foundation at 701.572.9275.
For more information about the Williams County Graduate Scholarship please contact WSC at 701.774.4220.
For any information regarding WSC, please visit www.willistonstate.edu,
call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.